Why is There No Shame in Seeking Therapy?

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

I have often heard or read that “There is no shame in seeking therapy.” (or any kind of help), but I have never been told why.

Being unable to cope with something on my own is weakness, there is no other way of seeing it. There really is not. Inability to do something theoretically possible is the same as being too weak to do it and -assuming I have free will- controlling my actions is not just theoretically possible but should even be extremely easy.

And there definitely is shame weakness and definitely no strength in admitting weakness, especially considering that the act of admitting it is really the moment I am no longer strong enough.
(Yes, I have heard that the meak shall inherit the earth but we all know that is not true so please don’t try to deny these facts.)

Is there some reasonable, rational explanation for the “no shame” statement or is just supposed to make people feel better?

A. In the public at large, there are many beliefs that are held which are simply not true. Perhaps they are stubborn remnants of prejudice, ignorance, bigotry, hubris, misogyny or other psychological ill health. Many people erroneously believe that they should be able to solve all of their own problems. If they can’t do so they feel weak, embarrassed or maybe even “less of a person.”

Some erroneous beliefs about therapy still exist, to a lessening degree, despite the commendable efforts of professional and advocacy organizations.

There is less of a stigma associated with receiving medical treatment, though many people see medical treatment as a weakness. Generally, most people do not feel weak or embarrassed if they seek help for a medical problem. Most people understand that medical problems require the assistance of highly trained professionals who spent years advancing their knowledge in their field. The same logic should apply to psychological problems. Just like medical doctors, therapists receive many years of training.

If there’s no shame in seeking help for medical problems then there should be no shame in seeking help for psychological problems.

Just as the layperson lacks training in medicine, the layperson lacks the specialized knowledge of a mental health professional.

Can you clean your fuel injectors; change the burners in your furnace; straighten your teeth? Did you instinctively know trigonometry, calculus, or even how to read? Did you need someone to teach you these things? Did you feel like less of a person because you needed someone to teach you?

We aren’t born knowing everything. There is much we have to learn from others, whether from books written by others or from others making videos or teaching us in person.

There is no shame in not knowing. When we don’t know, we look for those answers. Maybe from a book, a class, or a person: who also once did not know but now does.

I hope this helps.

Dr. Kristina Randle

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 10 Jun 2012

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2012). Why is There No Shame in Seeking Therapy?. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 1, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2012/06/10/why-is-there-no-shame-in-seeking-therapy/